Alcohol consumption has hit the news again. The Lancet medical journey, featuring research from The Washington University, has followed hundreds of thousands of people aged 15-95 across 195 countries from 1990 through 2016 and analysed how their drinking affected their health.
In simple terms, it found that out of 100,000 people, 914 would develop an alcohol-fueled illness. For drinkers downing 5 glasses a day, an additional 338 people would suffer from an alcohol-related illness. The study found that, globally, 27.1% of cancer deaths in women and 18.9% in men over 50 were linked to their drinking habits. That’s worrying statistics if those are the direct result of their drinking.
The conclusion of the findings was that there was zero level of alcohol consumption which could be regarded as safe and healthy.
However, alcohol severely affects your training and, important to Short Motivation, your ability to lose weight, keep weight off and look great in a pair of shorts.
Alcohol inhibits your ability to lose weight in ways you may have never envisaged, including:
Calories. After a long day at work, we all like to get home, put our feet up for an hour, relax and drink a glass a two of wine. However, we overlook the number of calories in a single small glass. If you have a couple of glasses of wine each evening, you might easily find you’ve consumed close to 1000 calories in a week from your alcohol consumption.
Fuel. When you drink alcohol, your body will switch to using this as your fuel for powering your workout, rather than your fat reserves. This turns the carbs in alcohol into glucose which, in turn, causes your body to retain and not burn fat.
Sugar. Alcohol is full of sugar, which, particularly in middle-aged men, tends to cause belly fat. There’s a reason for the “beer gut”. It isn’t a myth. Granted, there isn’t a tonne of sugar in your drink, your mid-morning snack probably has more, but it all adds up and if you are a heavy drinker and can easily get through a bottle of wine, you might find you’ve easily gone well over your daily recommended allowance.
Judgement. Frankly, alcohol makes us happy, at least temporarily. It also inhibits our thinking and causes us to do things we’d not normally do, including the type of food we’d eat on a night out. Worse, the ethanol in your drink has been showed to create cravings, causing you to increase your food intake.
Sleep. Alcohol affects your sleep, but often in a way you’d never expect. You get to sleep more quickly after a few drinks, but your sleep is more intermittent and restless, meaning you lack the deep sleep required for post-training recovery.
There are many other reasons and ways alcohol can affect your body. If you’re a heavy drinker, alcohol can affect your organs (particularly your liver), the ability to fight off infection and recover from a hard session and can even cause your body to overlook key nutrients from your food as your body is so busy trying to deal with breaking down the alcohol.
Worse, your body gets used to alcohol, you find a couple of drinks barely touches the sides – which means you feel like it isn’t affecting your body at all. So you have another. And your two a day becomes three and it’s too easy for your body to feel like you need the alcohol to get through the week, so you go around in a circle which is hard to break.
The important point of this is, limit your drinking. Alcohol should never be seen as a ‘reward’ for a hard day at the office or even a hard session at the gym, as a couple of small drinks can easily ruin all the good work you’ve achieved smashing your goals earlier in the day.
By all means, do not feel you have to completely remove drinking from your life. Here at Short Motivation, we believe in moderation and enjoying your life. Set aside an evening once-a-week where you enjoy a couple of drinks after work with your colleagues. You need to be sociable and it’s often important to succeed at work. If you’re invited to a party, don’t go and tell them you’re only drinking fizzy water. You’re allowed to have a little downtime now and again!
However, just make sure that your drinking doesn’t become a habit, a reward or make your training a justification for your drinking. We know people who think that they can drink because they’ve hit the gym for an hour, so one effectively justifies the other. And then they wonder why they never lose the weight they wanted to lose years ago.